Years ago when I moved in with The Manimal I sorted through my little rented house like a mad woman and got rid of nearly everything I own. Hahahahaha!
Ok, I got rid of a whole lot of stuff. Sofas, chairs, tables, boxes and boxes of books, half of my clothing, more than half of my dishes, pots and pans and so on. I gave things away to family and friends, then I donated the rest of it all to Goodwill and moved down to this valley with a happy heart and a great deal of optimism.
Optimism, of course, is a far cry from Clear Thinking.
. The Manimal built this house, and raised his 3 sons here long before I came to this part of the country.He has a long history here, a history full of adventures and collecting.
Because I did not want to take up too much space or be a burden I thought the best thing would be to move my belongings into the loft of the house. My reasoning is that the loft was not 'really' being used. It just held things in boxes and random bits of furniture belonging to the 3 grown sons who were all off living on their own. Junk actually....at least close enough to junk that none of the boys wanted it in their own homes. After a couple of years the boys moved their stuff out (or threw it away or whatever) which you would think would give me more space, but I got another sewing machine, and set up my quilting frame to finish a quilt, and my brother gave me a spinning wheel.....so it stayed crowded up here.
|This is what happens when you move 5 rooms of stuff into one room.|
The loft had been 2 bedrooms not-very-large-bedrooms before the addition was built, with one bedroom having a half wall, open to the great room below. A year or two before I met The Manimal he had taken out (chopped out might be a more accurate term) the wall between the bedrooms, turning this into a large open room. Brilliant idea, much more useful than two little pokey rooms. STill, once all my giving away was done I still ended up essentially moving 5 rooms of belongings into one room.
As a Textiles Major at university I'd become interested in the functionality of clothing on several levels. Why do people dress as they do? How do we judge/evaluate one another by our clothing? Where does clothing comed from? Who makes it and how, and in what conditions? These and a dozen other clothing related questions filled my head.
As my Thesis work for my degree in Textile design I chose to do an exploration of very fundamental clothing. As it happens, in the middle of the year I ended up dropping out of college to go live in the forest and take up a Back-to-the-Land lifestyle with my darling long-haired bookbinding teacher, so I've not actually completed the Plain Dress Project.
But I haven 't given it up either.
The idea of the project was that I would design a simple functional outfit, make multiples of it, and live a year wearing these plain-ish dresses exclusively. I would carefully document what this did to A-the cloth, B-my head, and possibly C-my relationships. I chose simple homespun cotton, which to my delight turned out to not need ironing after the first few washings. I chose to make dresses because I was double majoring in religious studies and spent a lot of time in places where a woman appearing in pants would have been disrespectful. (I couldn't think of anywhere wearing a dress would offend anyone). I designed the dresses to have large pockets so I could forgo carrying a purse, and I calculated the size of the bodice and neckline so the dresses would slip easily over my head simply because I hate putting in zippers. Because I would be wearing aprons much of the time (very practical) I chose checked and print fabrics rather than plain colors to avoid being taken for a member of our nearby Amish communities.
Not that I'd be offended to be thought Amish, but that I would be going places Amish women do not go, and I didn't want to cause any confusion or undue curiosity about them.
I did actually learn quite a lot from The Plain Dress Project, about the properties of different fibers, about commercial clothing construction, design and marketing. I learned a bit about how clothing functions as an identifier for groups. I learned about clothing styles in different countries, and about how various cultures view concepts such as modesty, propriety, stylishness, vanity and humility.
I learned things about myself too. I learned I honestly prefer simple handmade dresses to any other type of clothes (and believe me I've tried them all).
I learned by buying and wearing some that actual Amish/Mennonite style dresses are Not for me. They're too structured for my taste, too complicated to construct, and are these days generally made of polyester which must be a godsend to a mother with 8 or 10 kids to clothe as it's so easy-care, but I just really hate wearing polyester. (My poly work shirts are bad enough, I'd hate to wear the stuff from neck to knees!)
I learned that I dislke having anyone else tell me what to wear and what not to wear. Muleheaded, what?
I learned that I'm happy making clothing. For my family. I can't imagine wanting to take up doing it for the general public. I prefer to just be my very own sweat-shop.
I learned that with a dozen or so types of clothes to choose from each day I kept reaching again and again for the same few dresses, the ones I made in the summer of 2007. Consequently when it came to decluttering, that is what I opted to keep. The plain dresses for my personal wear, and the work uniform for when I'm "on the clock".
As I'm in my current job most likely until I retire I won't be needing office clothes EVER AGAIN for office wear or for job interviews. No more Dress For Success, from here on people can just take me as they find me. What a Huge Relief! (for me anyway, I don't know how 'people' feel about it.)
With only the plain dresses I of course could easily part with all the pairs of shoes of various styles and heel heights that don't go with plain dresses. All the stockings and undies of a style to not work with plain dresses. All the coats and jackets and sweaters that don't work with the dresses.
Box after box filled up and my smile got bigger and bigger.
My closets have plenty of breathing space between hangers now. I still have enough of an assortment to play around with a little (blue dress with aqua apron? purple dress with pink flowered apron? brown striped dress with brown flowered underskirt?) This pleases my artistic inner child without taxing my frustration level. I like having more wiggle room between things.
|Second closet. Behind these clothes are boxes of stuff that 'came with the house' which I therefore cannot get rid of. Not my stuff, not my perogative to jettison it. I compromise and hide it from myself for now.|
As I am now employed in town as a humble custodian I wear to work the required uniform of a pair of jeans (I own 3 pair) and a pocketed polyester smock (the company supplies us with 4). I wear these clothes in rotation day after day. Actually although I own 3 pair of jeans I don't like wearing jeans, so I've been wearing the 1 most comfortable pair day after day (washing as needed) and haven't gotten around to taking the other 2 pair off the shelf in 12 weeks now.
As I'd been threatening to seriously declutter the loft, hauling empty packing boxes down from the upper stories of the dorms put me in mind to let these boxes serve humanity one more time before being recycled.
I got my co-workers to help me accumulate a few decent sized boxes, bit enough to hold a good deal, small enough for me to carry when full. When The Manimal picked me up from work I hurled them in the back of the pickup truck and I spent my two days off this week sorting out a large bookcase and one and a half closets. I am not yet decided what to do about some of the not-mine things in the back of the second closet. I may address that issue on my next days off.
|Here the books are all in boxes, as is 85% of my previous wardrobe.|
A-we may need it someday
B- we have another one alike and we shouldn't break up the pair
C-they don't make them like that anymore
D-we could use it for parts if something breaks
E-we might know someone who needs one and if we keep it then we'd have it to give to the future imaginary person
and while I understand the logic (ha!) of all these points, my answer in this case is It is MY STUFF and I AM GETTING RID OF IT. PERIOD.
To avoid un pleasant conversations therefore I am secretly plotting to haul these boxes of goodby things to their various destinations while my beloved is in France enjoying the bread and wine and cheese. We each shall thereby have our own favorite pleasures.
Like any large project the Loft Clearing is looking a whole lot worse before it will look better. That seems to be the nature of life. Fixing often looks like disaster for a brief while.
I'll post you some after photos when it gets to looking better.
In the meantime, look at these:
|And lastly here's a picture of eggs because the girls lay such pretty eggs and looking at them mkes me smile.|